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When does rigorous impact evaluation make a difference ? the case of the millennium villages

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  • Clemens, Michael A.
  • Demombynes, Gabriel

Abstract

When is the rigorous impact evaluation of development projects a luxury, and when a necessity? This Paper studies one high-profile case: the Millennium Villages Project (MVP), an experimental and intensive package intervention to spark sustained local economic development in rural Africa. it illustrates the benefits of rigorous impact evaluation in this setting by showing that estimates of the project's effects depend heavily on the evaluation method. Comparing trends at the MVP intervention sites in Kenya, Ghana, and Nigeria to trends in the surrounding areas yields much more modest estimates of the project's effects than the before-versus-after comparisons published thus far by the MVP. Neither approach constitutes a rigorous impact evaluation of the MVP, which is impossible to perform due to weaknesses in the evaluation design of the project's initial phase. These weaknesses include the subjective choice of intervention sites, the subjective choice of comparison sites, the lack of baseline data on comparison sites, the small sample size, and the short time horizon. The authors describe how the next wave of the intervention could be designed to allow proper evaluation of the MVP's impact at little additional cost.

Suggested Citation

  • Clemens, Michael A. & Demombynes, Gabriel, 2010. "When does rigorous impact evaluation make a difference ? the case of the millennium villages," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5477, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5477
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Michael Woolcock, 2009. "Toward a plurality of methods in project evaluation: a contextualised approach to understanding impact trajectories and efficacy," Journal of Development Effectiveness, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(1), pages 1-14.
    2. Miriam Bruhn & David McKenzie, 2009. "In Pursuit of Balance: Randomization in Practice in Development Field Experiments," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(4), pages 200-232, October.
    3. Kibaara, Betty & Ariga, Joshua & Olwande, John & Jayne, Thom S., 2008. "Trends in Kenyan Agricultural Productivity: 1997-2007," Working Papers 202611, Egerton University, Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy and Development.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Chapter II : Is Jeffrey Sachs in a highway to hell?
      by Dany Jaimovich - Bakary Baludin in Development Therapy on 2012-05-11 13:40:00

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Maria Lo Bue & Stephan Klasen, 2013. "Identifying Synergies and Complementarities Between MDGs: Results from Cluster Analysis," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 113(2), pages 647-670, September.
    2. Datta, Nirupam, 2015. "Evaluating Impacts of Watershed Development Program on Agricultural Productivity, Income, and Livelihood in Bhalki Watershed of Bardhaman District, West Bengal," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 443-456.
    3. Michael Clemens, Gabriel Demombynes, 2013. "The New Transparency in Development Economics: Lessons from the Millennium Villages Controversy," Working Papers 342, Center for Global Development.
    4. Kamiya, Yusuke & Yoshimura, Yukie & Islam, Mohammad Tajul, 2013. "An impact evaluation of the Safe Motherhood Promotion Project in Bangladesh: Evidence from Japanese aid-funded technical cooperation," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 34-41.
    5. Matthew E. Kahn, 2015. "A Review of The Age of Sustainable Development by Jeffrey Sachs," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 53(3), pages 654-666, September.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Housing&Human Habitats; Poverty Monitoring&Analysis; Science Education; Scientific Research&Science Parks; Population Policies;

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